A college infirmary breeds clumsy love
Elodie suffers from so many illnesses that she takes up residency in the Brown University infirmary. A doctor makes Elodie his research subject, as does Chess, a charismatic student who enters the infirmary with smashed knees. In Andrea Seigel’s hilarious, visceral new novel, these three trade narration in the form of strained letters and a doctor’s report.
Though To Feel Stuff sometimes reads like a drawn-out short story, a market-savvy follow-up to Seigel’s successful Like the Red Panda, there’s strange, engaging joy in reading what are all essentially love letters (even the doctor finds himself “bound together” with Elodie).
Seigel writes like Ghost World creator Daniel Clowes draws—with careful momentum, unceasing irony and an unspoken claim that eavesdropping is an inalienable right. Both storytellers are obsessed with pathetically silly humans and clumsy love.
To Feel Stuff is ultimately a ghost story with a human twist. “Everything in the world that matters shows up as some kind of pain. Or pang. Joy included,” writes Elodie. Seigel’s frail puppets try to feel stuff, and end up feeling something even less definable; they’re as surprised as we are by the plot’s final, paranormal twist.